Up Close with Kevin stankiewicz (osu '18)
Ohio State Evans Scholar Kevin Stankiewicz is nothing if not a realist.
A sports fanatic as a kid growing up in Brunswick, Ohio, Kevin did not take long to realize he lacked the athletic acumen necessary to make a living playing the games he loved most.
So he decided to start writing about them instead.
“I thought the next best thing was to become a sports journalist so I could still submerge myself in sports,” Kevin said. “In 10th grade, I took an intro to journalism-type class, and that’s when I realized I wanted to devote my life to this profession. This was my passion.”
Now a senior majoring in journalism, Kevin has written dozens of articles for The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, contributed reporting to stories published in the Washington Post and authored an op-ed piece for The New York Times’ Room for Debate section.
We talked with Kevin about his interest in journalism, his professional aspirations and how the Evans Scholarship is helping him pursue his dreams.
Q) How did you get involved with The Lantern?
I got involved with The Lantern as a freshman on a freelance basis. A kid from my high school who graduated a few years earlier than me was an editor there and helped get my foot in the door. After writing consistently for the paper, an editor job became open. Although it is unlikely for a first-year student to get hired, I figured, “Why not?” and applied. Fortunately, the paper liked my work and hired me.
Q) What has your experience with the paper been like?
My experience has been great. I got to cover the football team, traveling to all of the games, including the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. I’ve learned a lot from my time with the paper. My growth as a reporter has been substantial, and I’m fortunate to have had the chance to get involved so early on.
Q) Who are the journalists or writers you most admire? What about their work resonates with you?
Historically speaking, Gay Talese, formerly of The New York Times and Esquire magazine, is a writer who I love. He did amazing coverage of the civil rights movement, but my favorite thing he wrote was, “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold.” Many consider it to be the best piece of magazine journalism ever. I often find myself rereading it, just studying Mr. Talese’s writing style and storytelling ability. As for more of the contemporaries, Wright Thompson from ESPN does amazing longform storytelling. His way of vividly painting pictures with words is what really resonates with me. Lastly, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post is my favorite newspaper journalist of today. His ambition as a 20-something inspires me to keep working at my craft, because major success doesn’t have to come later in life. Lowery is a social justice and law enforcement reporter, and what really resonates about his work is his constant pursuit of truth. He really focuses on subjects that “give voice to the voiceless,” which is a role of journalists. There are so many good reporters out there today.
Q) What is your dream job?
Picking just one is nearly impossible, so I won’t even try. I no longer want to be a sports reporter. I want to write long, magazine-like stories about injustices happening around the world. There are a lot of unfortunate situations people are in, and I feel that if I can tell their stories, maybe we can make progress on fixing them. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. It doesn't matter who is publishing the stories, just as long as I can tell them.
Q) How would you describe your experience as an Evans Scholar at Ohio State?
My experience as a Scholar has been great. I’ve met a lot of great friends inside the Scholarship House who have assisted me in my schoolwork, as well as just growing as a person. I can honestly say I live with some of my best friends on campus. That’s a very special thing.
Q) In what ways do you think earning the Evans Scholarship has shaped or changed your life?
The Evans Scholarship, of course, has shaped my life in myriad ways. I think the biggest thing is that it has allowed me to pursue my love of journalism. It’s no secret that reporters aren’t well paid. For me, it isn’t about the money. It’s about telling stories. With that said, college is very expensive and that cost can be a burden to a lot of people. Having the financial assistance that I do from the Evans Scholars Foundation has allowed me to focus on my schoolwork and growing as a writer, instead of having to work additional jobs to make money. And then when I graduate, not being tied down by student loans will give me a chance to take a job that will make me happy, instead of one that will help me pay off loans.